Sunday, February 11, 2007

Swimming & Reminiscing

I woke up Saturday morning from a vivid dream- I had just finished a race at a swim meet back in Texas. I could hear the cheering, hit the wall at the finish, and feel the type of victorious exhaustion that always sets in after a great race. I don't dream about swimming much anymore- back when it dominated my life I dreamed about it all the time. If you're in a pool 5 hours a day, its only natural that you're going to spend a lot of time there while you're asleep. My dream gave me an urgent need to be back in the water- never mind the fact I had been forced to quit by a hip injury nearly 6 years ago and that I hadn't swam more than a handful of times since then-- I needed to be in a pool.

JP and I met because we were both members of the Univ. of Texas varsity swim team (actually we met because we both got kicked out of a bar for underage drinking at the same time, but we were both in the same bar because the guys and girls teams were meeting there). He still swims every morning and I always stay in bed- yesterday, much to his shock, I found a suit, dug an old cap and goggles (the cap had my high school's logo and maiden name on it), and came along.

UC has a surprisingly nice pool- especially since the team is not exactly Olympic material (they're UAA and can't give scholarships, so the student-athletes really are students first). My high school times would have a good number of their team and pool records. It felt strange to be back on deck- I wasn't even sure what I'd do once I was in the water. I'm used to having a coach yelling at me, teammates to joke around with, and sets written up on the board. I jumped in and memories of grueling 5:30am practices in freezing cold pools came rushing back. Memories of being exhausted all the time. Memories of bus rides to swim meets, hotel rooms, swimming in pools all over the country, amazing races, and awards stands. Memories that grew stronger as I jumped in the pool and faded quickly as I realized that staying out of a pool for 5 years means you're going to suck when you finally get back in. I used to feel graceful and powerful in the water- now I felt awkward and weak. My arms were shaking after a 200!! It was hard to make myself stay in the water to swim a full mile- we used to do 6-7 miles a day of very hard sets- here I was just swimming back and forth at my own (slow) pace. It was much more depressing than I thought it would be.

I treasure my memories of swimming- treasure doesn't really even describe it. It was an amazing time in my life- filled with joy, pain (physical and emotional), laughter, and friendship. Losing swimming was utterly devestating. I'm sure any ex-athlete has the same feelings. Being a swimmer was a huge part of me and sometimes I marvel at the fact that it has nothing to do with my life now- that my new friends don't even think of me as one. Most of the time I'm 100% fulfilled and happy in my life now, but every now and then, I feel like I left a piece of me back on the pool deck. I'm sad that its all over- I still want to end up where I am now, but I'd give anything to go back and do it all again.

1 comment:

  1. A quick "amen" to mourning the loss of a varsity sport. Although at least you gave it a shot again; I haven't gone back once since graduation.